Porthos | The Wine Insiders

About Porthos

Porthos is the name of the fun loving, wine drinking musketeer from Alexandre Dumas novel, The Three Musketeers. Based in the California Wine Country, Porthos discreetly provides customized Sommelier services for many of the most avid rare wine collectors in America. Portfolio services include:

Special Access (often bypassing multi-year wait lists) to rare ‘Cult’ wines and undiscovered boutique wines from California, France, and Italy

Honest, unbiased recommendations - personalized according to each VIP client’s unique palate - based upon thousands of collector-level wines judged annually

Satisfaction Guarantee on any wine we personally recommend (details below)

Insider Access to private tours and tastings at the preeminent wineries in Napa and Sonoma (+ Bordeaux) annually 

Why Porthos?

Our mission is to build long term, personal relationships with our clients by providing:

#1 Personalized Service

Porthos members place the greatest value on our ability to recommend and access rare wines not normally available via regular retail wine shops! To ensure you only receive wines guaranteed to thrill, we invest in customizing our recommendations based upon your personal palate and collecting priorities. 

Rare Wine Collections

Porthos features rare wine collections for the most avid wine collectors. Loyal collectors enjoy the ability to secure 6-12 bottle parcels of favorite wines for their cellars. 

Insider Connections

Porthos is perfectly located at the crossroad between Napa and Sonoma and we’re here to offer you insider connections to the finest hard-to-find and small production, boutique wines not normally available in regular retail stores. 

Insider Scoop

At Porthos, we're committed to providing you insider information about the best new up-and-coming wines before they are discovered by the wine critics and collector crowds.


Porthos was established in June, 2000 in Sausalito, California by Hal Oates. Porthos originally started as a newsletter for co-founder Hal Oates' thirsty friends and family in Texas looking for hard-to-find California wines and has since grown to become the #1 “wine personal shopper” service in California. Since the original clients of Porthos were all friends and family, our team established a highly personalized customer service attitude which we're proud to maintain today with our extended family of fellow wine lovers. While many of our colleagues in the wine world love to pontificate about what wines they love, our purpose is to help you find the wines you already love and then introduce you to new wines according to your individual tastes.

Our Guarantee

If you're not happy with a wine that we personally recommend for you, we'll do what it takes to make you happy. At Porthos, our mission is to establish long term relationships with avid wine collectors. Hence, Porthos will make every effort to resolve any wine issues to your satisfaction. But we ask our customers to acknowledge that wine is a living thing, easily bruised, or damaged in a variety of ways. All wine sold by us is maintained at optimum conditions prior to shipping to clients. We consider wine to be out of our control once it has been successfully delivered and you've had a reasonable time (90 days) to sample it. We cannot be responsible for improper storage (storing on top of your refrigerator, in your car, next to your oven, for example). Hence, Porthos does not offer full refunds for wines returned more than 90 days after receipt.

Refund Policy

Porthos offers full refunds* for wines in the rare situation when a Porthos wine concierge personally recommends a wine to a collector and that client does not enjoy the wine after sampling upon receipt. For all other situations, a re-stocking fee of 30% of the amount of the purchase will apply (e.g. cancelled orders, returns for special orders directly from the winery, etc.). If a wine is damaged during shipping (e.g. broken) due to UPS or Fedex neglect, a full refund will be offered. However, please note that neither UPS nor FedEx offer refunds due to weather damage (e.g. cork leakage due to heat or cold) so please make sure the weather conditions at your shipping destination are suitable to receive wine or, if not, contact Porthos to request temporary storage. 

*Full refund in the form of a store credit. Offer expires 90 days following receipt of the wine by client.

Legal Age

By submitting an order to Porthos Wine Ventures, Inc. you are also submitting that you are 21 years of age and legally able to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages. Wines may be delivered to persons of 21 years of age or older only. You will be asked to provide positive ID by the shipper or carrier. Porthos is not responsible for the return of shipments due to lack of positive ID, and return shipping charges are your responsibility. All wine is sold in the State of California, and the title passes to the buyer in California. PORTHOS makes no representation to the legal rights of anyone to ship or import wine into any state outside of California. By placing an order with us, you are stating to us that you are in compliance with your local laws governing alcoholic beverages. 


We promise to protect your privacy and will not share any of the information we collect from you with any third party. Questions or concerns? Contact us.

Shipping Policies

Due to interstate shipping regulations that remain in a few states, Porthos cannot ship wine to all 50 states. Click on “Shipping Policies” on our home page for the latest update. Thankfully, these laws are changing rapidly, but if you need wine shipped to a state that is included on the current list of prohibited states, please contact us directly in order to make other arrangements.

Porthos reserves the right to hold shipment of your wine during extreme weather conditions to avoid any risk of damage to these outstanding wines.

Porthos policy is to offer Complimentary Shipping via regular UPS ground for orders of 6+ bottles of wine. Some exceptions may apply to “mix and match” orders or special offers. Although unlikely, we reserve the right to raise prices for shipping/handling without notice.

Porthos guarantees that all bottles are shipped from our facility in the California wine country in pristine condition. Porthos cannot be responsible for damage caused to wine (including leakage or popped corks due to weather conditions) during the shipping process to you or a requested gift recipient in the normal course of business. Please note: UPS (or FedEx) will replace lost or damaged items except in the case of weather related issues. 

Porthos cannot be responsible for wine damaged by a shipper or inappropriate storage/handling on the part of the buyer (applies 30 days after delivery), although we will make a reasonable effort to resolve any disputes.

Porthos reserves the right to refuse sales if we deem it to be inappropriate and/or unsafe.

Billing/Timing Policy

The majority of wine orders from Porthos will be fulfilled, shipped*, and billed to your credit card within 14 days of your order. Normally, your credit card will be billed the same day as the wine is shipped. However, this timing may differ for rare imports (including “futures”), highly-allocated wines, wine clubs, and special request orders. For those orders, your credit card will be billed within 30 days of placing the order to secure your order. Please note: special request orders may not be guaranteed 100% prior to billing.

*Depending upon weather at destination. In cases of extreme conditions, we may suggest holding in our temperature-controlled cellar (a complimentary service for our VIP clients for up to 90 days) until temperate conditions pose no risk of damage to your wine order.

Return Policy

If you're not happy with a purchase or one of our recommendations, we'll do what it takes to make you happy. We ask our customers to acknowledge that wine is a living thing, easily bruised, damaged, or destroyed in a variety of ways. All wine sold by us is maintained at optimum conditions. We consider wine to be out of our control once it has been successfully delivered and you've had a reasonable amount of time to sample it. We cannot be responsible for improper storage (storing on top of your refrigerator, in your car, next to your oven, for example). Know your palate: Older wines (ten years or more) may differ from their characteristics on release - and still be great wines. If you purchase older wines, be patient and allow your mind - and the wine - to open. We cannot accept returns for sound wines that do not coincide with personal tastes. In general, Porthos will make every effort to resolve any wine issues to your satisfaction.

Pre-Order Policy

Occasionally, we offer our most highly-sought-after wines to our loyal clients on a pre-order basis before the wine is released. We believe this is the most democratic manner in which to guarantee quantities of particular wines desired by our clients. In order to guarantee the wine purchase, Porthos will charge the client for wine, shipping, and sales tax (if applicable) at the time of the order. At that time, Porthos will advise the client of the estimated shipping date. Then, Porthos will notify the client once the pre-ordered wine ships. Timing may range from several weeks to a few months before the winery delivers their wine to us.

Is Porthos a Discount Wine Retailer?

At Porthos, we never claim to have the absolute cheapest prices on every wine because we have found that some competitors occasionally mis-price items and/or bait and switch pricing on a few bottles of a big name wine that happens to mysteriously sell out when a purchase is attempted. Porthos provides competitive retail pricing on featured wines to offer our members a fair deal and avoid any price gouging on our rarest selections. In most situations, if you find a wine priced significantly lower in a legitimate offer from a competitor, Porthos will strive to match that offering*.

*Depends on availability. Price will be matched once we receive confirmation of the lower price.

How does Porthos Provide Value to Wine Lovers?

Our #1 focus at Porthos is providing the finest personalized service to our discriminating clientele. The majority of Porthos members are serious wine collectors that place a premium on our ability to customize recommendations and source rare wines that they will personally enjoy. We have learned that a big rating or the cheapest price for a particular wine is not a true value to a thirsty wine lover if they do not enjoy the actual bottle.

Hal Oates - Founder and President

Hal grew up in Texas with a large, loving family that was passionate about sensational food and wine. Hal's first trip to Napa was at age 10 and his only regret is that he didn't return to start Porthos sooner. After college at the University of Virginia and business school at Wharton, Hal spent ten years in consumer advertising and promotions with PepsiCo. Hal relocated from Texas to northern California for his last assignment as V.P. of Corporate marketing working with George Lucas and the Lucasfilm management team to develop all corporate advertising and promotions for Star Wars. Hal later became more interested in wine sampling than film marketing and launched an insiders-only newsletter (a.k.a ‘blog’ in today’s nomenclature) profiling his favorite undiscovered wineries in Napa and Sonoma. That newsletter led to the development of Porthos after a plethora of friends and family lamented they couldn't purchase (outside Wine Country) any of the delectable wines Hal recommended. Today, Hal and his team are dedicated to providing honest, unbiased recommendations for the finest small production wines in California, Italy, and France according to each clients' personal tastes.

Jim Anderson - Wine Concierge

Jim Anderson was born and raised in the heart of California’s Wine Country, the Sonoma Valley (literally grew up running through vineyards and fishing in their ponds). His passion for small production, high-quality artisan wines runs deep and he loves nothing more than to share this with friends and avid wine collectors, exposing them to Wine Country’s finest undiscovered gems. Prior to joining the team at Porthos, Jim was the Chief Concierge at Sonoma’s premier luxury hotel, where he was also an honored member of Les Clefs d’Or, a private association of the world’s most elite and well-connected Concierge. Jim also served as a Sommelier and wine buyer for the resort’s Michelin-rated restaurant and achieved his Advanced Level Three Certification through the internationally acclaimed Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Jim looks forward to sharing personalized recommendations, an insider’s glimpse of the world’s finest wines and all the wonderful stories behind them.

Becky Rodriguez - Wine Concierge

Becky was born and raised in Maryland, the birth place of world famous wine critic Robert Parker. Her wine adventures began after college working in a retail shop selling a variety of French and international wines. Seeking to broaden her knowledge, Becky spent time in western New York where she worked her first harvest along the Niagara Escarpment. With a passion for cool climate varietals she moved to Oregon and joined the Willamette Valley vineyards team. There, Becky gained hands-on experience in every aspect of viticulture working closely with the head wine maker and vineyard manager. Thanks to this experience, she landed a harvest internship in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France. She received her MBA at INSEEC Business School in the heart of Bordeaux and then worked for 100 Point producer Chateau Teyssier (Le Dome) in Saint-Émilion. Prior to Porthos, Becky’s experiences as a judge for International tasting panels such as Le Concours Général Agricole in Paris and travels to renowned wine regions worldwide have given her a unique perspective on rare wines. Becky’s core expertise is leveraging her extensive knowledge to match wine connoisseurs (as well as new wine lovers!) with the perfect recommendations for their private cellars.

James Byus - Wine Concierge

James has an extensive background in the Restaurant & Hospitality industry as both a chef and manager. With this experience, James has developed a unique understanding of wines from vine to table, paired with a love of culture and food. James brings an abundance of enthusiasm and core expertise in fine wines from around the globe to provide the highest level of Wine Concierge service for Porthos VIP’s. 

James is originally from Maryland and spent many years in restaurants (Legal Seafoods, Hillstone and Seasons 52) before cutting his teeth with an Italian distributor where he began his wine career. James’ East Coast roots sparked an affinity for import wines and later led him to California wine country. Here, James gained hands-on knowledge working with family-run, boutique wineries and fine wine retail. He also built a national following, earning the trust and respect of collectors and enthusiasts alike with his personal wine reviews and curated selections for his private clients.

Ryan Lee - Vice President/General Manager

Ryan leads all creative and technical developments for Porthos.com. Prior to Porthos, Ryan scored movies and television commercials for several years as well as successfully launching a new restaurant concept for Gap, Inc.

Julie Meszaros - Director of Finances

Julie is a native of Northern Michigan who landed in the heart of Napa Valley years ago. Her broad accounting background includes working in education, construction, and agriculture, until finding her true passion in the wine industry in the late 90s. She comes to Porthos from Napa Valley Vintners where she oversaw finances for the non-profit organization and their very successful wine auctions: Auction Napa Valley and Premiere Napa Valley. A knack for crunching numbers and a love of great wines makes for a perfect fit on the Porthos team. 

Amber Lenzi - Logistics and Operations Coordinator

Amber’s interest in wine began in Marin County, where she was born and raised. It wasn't until she moved to San Luis Obispo, however, to pursue degrees in Agriculture Business and Wine & Viticulture that her passion for the wine industry really took off. After working as a lab technician in Edna Valley, she found herself drawn back to the Bay Area, honing her expertise in luxury wine sales. Amber joins Porthos from a leading wine data asset management company, where she provided e-commerce and consultancy services to some of the most sought-after wine brands in the country. Today, her knowledge and appreciation for wine from different facets of the industry seamlessly translate into her role here at Porthos.

Matt Byrne - Luxury Tours Director

Matt is a native of the UK with a European family background immersed in the hospitality business. As Director of Porthos’ luxury tour program, Matt leverages his significant client service and entertainment experience with his lifelong passion for the culinary arts. Prior to Porthos, Matt spent decades in dynamic agency sales and marketing positions, most recently creating publicity campaigns in the independent film industry. Matt is a longtime wine country insider and has played an integral role at Porthos since its inception. Today, he leads the flourishing luxury tour program, curating and conducting tours for our top collectors, and new collectors via our valued partnerships with American Express, Andrew Harper, Flexjet and Sentient Jet. Matt’s tour clients are always thrilled to enjoy the behind-the-scenes taste of Napa’s most private wineries, including exclusive experiences not available to the general public.